AJ Hinch gets a new lease on life after spending the 2020 season suspended from the Houston Astros scandal. Hinch will be at the helm for the Detroit Tigers for 2021. (photo from the Detroit Free Press)
That’s Amaury News and Commentary
By Amaury Pi-González
Alex Cora was hired by the Boston Red Sox as their new skipper for the next two years running through 2022 with a two-year club option for the ’23 and ’24 seasons. In 2017 Alex Cora was the bench coach for the World Champion Houston Astros.
Because of a coordinated cheating of signs, he was suspended for a year, together with manager A.J Hinch as well as General Manager Jeff Lunow, who is a very good General Manager, proficient in Spanish who sat with us during a few innings of a broadcast, a few years ago as the Astros visited Oakland.
Alex Cora’s suspension expired immediately after Dodgers eliminated the Rays in this most recent World Series. Cora also assumed the manager’s position (during that 2017 cheating season with the Astros) every time manager Hinch was ejected; which was in three occasions. To refresh our memories: The 2017 Astros team won the West with 101-61 record, 21 games over second place LA Angels. A’s finished in last place, 26 games behind. Then the Astros took the World Series from the Dodgers. Obviously, the cheating paid off.
Not a surprise Cora is returning to Boston, he is well regarded by the Boston Red Sox organization. As a rookie manager Cora guided the Red Sox to 108 victories and a World Series title in 2018. However, the next season (2019) under Cora, the club ended with a 84-78 record, in third place 19 games behind the NY Yankees.
The most famous baseball scandal was that of the 1919 World Series, between the Chicago White Sox and the Cincinnati Reds, most well known as The Black Sox Scandal. In 1920 four players admitted to a Grand Jury they had thrown the 1919 World Series in return from a bribe by a gambling syndicate led by Arnold Rothstein and his associates.
A total of seven players were involved. “Eight Men Out” is an excellent movie about that most famous scandal. 1920’s and 2020, are two different planets in baseball. The highest paid player in 1920 was the great Ty Cobb, $20,000 a season with the Detroit Tigers. The Detroit Tigers franchise in 2020 is worth an estimated $1.25 billion.
Major League teams have the right to hire whomever they want, they are a private business and that is their right. And, granted, Cora won a World Series as Manager of the Red Sox and nobody accused the Red Sox of cheating that year.
However, I would think that the memory of the 2017 Houston Astros cheating and winning a World Series, still very much fresh in our minds. In a way looks like you can cheat and wait a couple of years and you are back in the game. I do not want Alex Cora suspended for life, that would be ridiculous, but coming back this soon? I do not think is a very good look for Major League Baseball. The wounds are not healed yet.
If there is cheating inside an organization, the most culpable are those in charge, from the top down, General Manager, to the Field Manager, then the players, and in some instances, maybe even the owner. During these times, owners are not that involved with what happens down on the field.
Unlike the days of black and white television, and prior, where some owners were really “hands on” with the teams. Not that very long ago, owners that come to mind are Charlie O. Finley with the Kansas City and Oakland A’s and George Steinbrenner of the New York Yankees, those were hands-on owners, they were really bosses with lots of passion for the game and they were not shy to show it.
Back in the days of the Black Sox Scandal, things were different, teams were mostly owned by families with certain affinity to the game and not big corporations like today. Not to mention a record that will never be broken, that of the Owner and Manager of the Philadelphia Athletics for over 50 years. Connie Mack who won 3,731 games, tops in major league baseball, he also played prior to his managing-owner years and never wore a uniform while managing, famous for his white straw hat.
“Cheating is baseball’s oldest profession. No other game is so rich in skullduggery. -Thomas Boswell.
Stay tuned and stay well.
Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the vice president of the Major League Baseball Hispanic Heritage Museum and does News and Commentary at http://www.sportsradioservice.com